ROCK HILL, S.C. -- The No. 16 Kentucky softball team captured a doubleheader win in the opening day of the 2016 Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C., as the Wildcats run ruled Albany 8-0 before recording a 7-1 win over Lehigh to round out the day.
Junior pitcher Shannon Smith had a record day, charting a new career-high 12 strikeouts over Albany while also throwing her first-career no-hitter in the five-inning affair. Smith only allowed two baserunners the entire game, both via a walk as Smith recorded her first shutout of the 2016 season.
In the second game, freshman Abbey Cheek added to her already-team leading runs batted in - as the Inman, S.C., native now has 26 on the season.
With the pair of wins, Kentucky continues its program-best start with a 16-2 record through 18 games played.
Kentucky will play another doubleheader on Saturday afternoon in Rock Hill, S.C., facing Charlotte at 1 p.m. ET before a 5 p.m. ET showdown with hosts Winthrop at Terry Field.
Game 1 - Albany
Three. The no-hitter by Shannon Smith was the third by the Kentucky pitching staff this season in its 18 games this year. Smith combines with Meagan Prince's no-hitter against South Dakota and Erin Rethlake's no-hitter against Lipscomb to make the three no-no's by the UK staff this season.
Brooklin Hinz unloaded her team-leading fourth home run of the season to straightaway centerfield with the bases loaded to make it 5-0 in the first inning. Hinz crushed the pitch with Sylver Samuel, Katie Reed and Abbey Cheek on the bases as she hit the second grand slam of the season for the Kentucky offense.
Shannon Smith threw a no-hitter and also set a new career high in strikeouts with 12 on the afternoon. Smith set her previous career high with 11 Ks last weekend in Chattanooga against Eastern Illinois before re-setting her career best this afternoon against Albany.
In the first inning, Kentucky got things going early with an E6 advancement from veteran Maisie Steed who set the tone for the inning. After a Katie Reed walk and an Abbey Cheek RBI single into center to score Steed, Nikki Sagermann walked to load the bases for Brooklin Hinz. Hinz then hit a grand slam to center for her team-leading fourth homer of the season to make it 5-0. Christian Stokes then made it back-to-back homers with a shot to left - her second of the year to cap off a six-run opening inning for the Wildcats. UK 6, ALB 0
In the second inning, Katie Reed moved her hit streak to 17 games with a double to the wall in left to lead off the inning. After a walk to Stokes, Jenny Schaper scored Reed from second with an RBI single to make it a seven run game for UK. UK 7, ALB 0
Kentucky would enforce the mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth inning and secure the no-hitter to cap off the game. Breanne Ray led off the inning with a single to right, followed up by a single from Rethlake to put runners on the corners with no outs. After a Steed walk loaded the bases, Rachael Metzger came in to pinch hit and SAC flied to center to score pinch runner Hannah Huffman to end the game. FINAL - No. 16 Kentucky 8, Albany 0
Game 2 - Lehigh
Four. Four is the number of RBIs that freshman Abbey Cheek had in the second game of the day, including a back-breaking bases-clearing double to center to put UK up 5-1 in the fifth inning. Cheek leads Kentucky with 27 runs driven in this season.
Abbey Cheek's bases-clearing double was the key play in the game for the Wildcats.
Abbey Cheek was also the key player in the game, going 3-for-4 in the game, with four RBIs. Cheek had the double in addition to two singles and a key runner advancement fielder's choice in the game-winning fourth inning for Kentucky - scoring the eventual game-winning run.
Kentucky scored its 26th first-inning run against Lehigh with Maisie Steed again being the key - getting on with a lead-off walk. Steed was advanced to third on two groundouts by Sylver Samuel and Katie Reed before Cheek brought her home with an RBI single back up the box to score Steed. UK 1, Lehigh 0
Lehigh would score its only run in the bottom of the third inning after a one out double was brought home by a single up the middle to score the batter. UK 1, Lehigh 1
Kentucky would re-take the lead in the top of the fourth inning as Sarah Rainwater scored on a Nikki Sagermann RBI single, scoring Rainwater from second base - who was pinch running for Abbey Cheek who got aboard with a single. UK 2, Lehigh 1
Kentucky broke open the game after four of the first five batters in the inning singled to load the bases for Cheek and one out. Cheek doubled to the wall in center to score all three runs and give UK a 5-1 lead. Two more RBI singles by Erin Rethlake and Christian Stokes rounded out the final scoring of the game. FINAL - No. 16 Kentucky 7, Lehigh 1